Ortiz: Francona probably had problems with players

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Ortiz: Francona probably had problems with players

Why did the Red Sox clubhouse self-destruct? Were there players drinking during games? David Ortiz wouldn't say one way or the other, but he did indicate that his teammates weren't always giving 100 percent.

"They probably haven't," Ortiz told CSN's Jessica Moran. "Trust me, the way things are going down right now here, they will learn. They will learn. And I guarantee they will try their best to improve things for next year.

"We're all pro ballers here -- at one point you have to know when the lack of effort is affecting you. I'm pretty sure it's gonna be better for next year."

The fact that players did not give their all is perhaps one of the reasons Ortiz's longtime manager Terry Francona is no longer with the team.

"When it comes down to that, I had a great relationship with Tito," Ortiz said. "I always gave him the green light, whenever I screwed up with something, for him to let me know . . . We were good at it.

"He probably had problems with some players," Ortiz added. "I can't really give you too many details about that. All I know is that you gotta just come here and get prepared to play the game."

It's a message that the Red Sox might have heeded during the regular season, had someone in the clubhouse been qualified to pass it along. But who? If Francona was tuned out, then perhaps a veteran player like Ortiz could speak the to club to get them back on track?

Not his job, Ortiz said.

"I'm one of the guys, I try my best to get things rolling one way or the other," Ortiz said. "I get along with pretty much everybody. At the same time I'm nobody to determine who does the right thing and who doesn't . . . It's not like I'm anybody's babysitter or anything like that."

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

BOSTON - The Red Sox knew they'd be in the playoffs last weekend when they clinched a postseason berth for the first time since 2013.

On Wednesday, they became division champs and knew they'd avoided the dreaded wild-card game.

ANALYSIS: Nick Friar looks at potential Red Sox-Indians matchup

They still don't know their first-round opponent, though it's becoming increasingly likely that it will be the Cleveland Indians.

Here's why: the Red Sox' loss to the Yankees on Thursday night leaves them with a 92-67 record with three games remaining, the second-best mark -- for now -- among the three A.L. division winners.

The Texas Rangers, at 94-65, retain the best record, with the Indians, at 91-67, a half-game behind the Sox.

The team with the best record of the three will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, and will be matched against the winner of Tuesday's A.L. wild-card matchup.

To finish with the A.L.'s best record and host the wild-card winner, the Red Sox essentially need to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays on the final weekend and hope that the Rangers get swept by Tampa Bay.

That's because a tie between the Red Sox and Rangers in the standings would make the Rangers the top seed by virtue of the second tie-breaker: intra-division play.

(The first tie-breaker is head-to-head play; the Sox and Rangers split the season series, sending them to the second tie-breaker).

In other words, the Rangers have a magic number of one to clinch the best record in the A.L. and gain home-field advantage throughout the postseason. One more Red Sox loss or one more Rangers win would get the Rangers locked into the top spot.

Again, barring a sweep by the Sox and the Rangers getting swept, a matchup in the Division Series with Cleveland seems almost inevitable.

What's not known is where that series will begin, and here's where it gets tricky.

Because the Indians and Detroit Tigers were rained out Thursday, the Tribe will have played only 161 games by the time the regular season ends early Sunday evening.

That could force the Indians and Tigers to play a makeup game on Monday, since the game could have playoff seeding implications for the Indians and Tigers. Detroit is still in the running for the A.L. wild card spot, currently a game-and-a-half behind the Orioles and Jays.

Since the Red Sox won the season series against the Indians 4-2, the Sox can clinch home field by winning two-of-three games from Toronto this weekend.

Should the Sox win two from the Jays, it would wipe out the need for Monday's makeup -- at least as far as the Indians are concerned. It's possible that it would still need to be played to determine the one of the wild card spots.

No matter who wins home field in a likely Red Sox-Indians matchup, the Division Series between the two will start with games next Thursday and Friday. After a travel day, the series would resume Sunday and Monday, Oct. 9-10.

Should the Sox win home field and host the first two games, Game 3 would be played Sunday Oct. 9 in Cleveland -- on the same day and in the same city where Tom Brady will make his return to the Patriots.